Thursday, June 28, 2007

Munroe-Blum condemns proposed UK academic boycott

June 19, 2007

Statement by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Heather Munroe-Blum, on the potential boycott of Israeli universities by the United Kingdom’s University and College Union

The exchange of knowledge and ideas is essential to the advancement of human development in all its forms: civic, scientific and cultural. Any attempt to constrain the ability of universities to engage freely in scholarship and teaching is an attack on the fundamental value of academic freedom.

The boycott of Israeli universities which is being considered by the United Kingdom’s University and College Union (UCU) should be thoroughly condemned.

We live in a world in which universities and their faculty members should seek to promote scholarly understanding and to remove barriers to academic exchange and expression.

It would be a gross violation of the values which form the foundation, and progressive evolution, of civil society if the UCU endorsed this action. I urge our British university colleagues to reject the boycott proposal.

I join in solidarity with President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University and Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau of the University of California, Berkeley, in support of unfettered interaction with Israeli scholars and institutions and in saying to those members of the UCU who would pursue this deplorable action: if you choose to isolate Israeli universities, you should add McGill to your boycott list. We will stand steadfast against those who seek to undermine academic freedom.

Heather Munroe-Blum
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
McGill University